NYC Sees Lowest Number of Traffic Deaths in More Than 100 Years

By
Pedestrian crossing street
Photo: Steven Puetzer/(c) Steven Puetzer

Last year, the city recorded its lowest number of traffic fatalities since New York began keeping track in 1910, a time when carriage horses caused havoc beyond the tabloids. In 2015, 231 people were killed in traffic incidents, down from 257 in 2014. Pedestrian deaths also dipped to 134, another all-time low. Still, a whopping 14,888 pedestrians and cyclists were injured by motorists last year, down about 80 from 2014, per Streetsblog.

Mayor de Blasio touted Vision Zero, the plan to make the city’s streets safer and bring traffic deaths down to zero, for the historic dips in fatalities. At a school in Woodside near Queens Boulevard — one of the city’s deadliest thoroughfares that’s been slated for a partial redesign under Vision Zero — de Blasio announced an additional $115 million toward traffic improvements, which will go toward investments in street transformations, including a multi-million-dollar plan to make school routes safer and tackle traffic problems in Long Island City and Far Rockaway, among other sites in the five boroughs.

Some of that money will also go toward enforcement, an area where critics say Vision Zero is still coming up short. Tickets for failure to yield and speeding were up last year compared to the Bloomberg era, but a DNAinfo report earlier this month said only 31 motorists who killed pedestrians were charged under a Vision Zero provision known as "The Right of Way Law." That law is intended to steepen the punishment and hold drivers accountable in deadly crashes by making it a misdemeanor to fail to yield to pedestrians. In Staten Island, where pedestrian fatalities slightly increased despite the drops citywide, not a single driver was prosecuted under that particular Vision Zero law.